Category: Reading

The year of the mega-novel

Franzen's new novel, a mere 576 pages

Franzen’s new novel, a mere 576 pages

In the Independent today, Alice Jones says that this year is going to be the year of the mega-novel. Jones is not entirely happy with this, and is still struggling with The Luminaries and has given up on Middlemarch. Having read and enjoyed both and also enjoyed A Suitable Boy, which she also mentions, I am looking forward to this. One new novel she does not mention is Mark Danielewski‘s The Familiar, volume 1, already out weighing in at 880 pages and volume 2, out in October, also weighing in at 880 pages. His House of Leaves, which I have read, was a paltry 709 pages. I plan to get round to volume 1 of The Familiar in the next few weeks and, if I enjoy it, will read volume 2 when it comes out. Unlike Alice Jones, I very much like a good mega-novel though I do not like bad ones such as that five-volume epic by that Norwegian guy and I did not really like that three volume one about the kid who takes on the forces of evil, with the help of Ian McKellen and I have not even looked at GoT, film, TV or book. But give me a good literary one, such as a Donna Tartt novel and I am happy. Good reading this summer, long or short.

The intangible benefits of literary fiction

How to be more empathetic

How to be more empathetic

Scientists have now “proved” that reading literary fiction makes you a more feeling person. After reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence, the study says. Even though I am happy to have an excuse for reading literary fiction, I don’t believe a word of it. They have said reading reduces the chance of getting Alzheimer’s but it didn’t help Iris Murdoch or Terry Pratchett, did it? They also said brushing your teeth reduces the chances of Alzheimer’s. Sometimes scientists seem to talk as much rubbish as politicians.

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